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“Voter fraud,” i.e., non-white people voting

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It’s mordantly amusing to see (some of) the GOP establishment recoil in horror at the rough beast that’s slouching toward an electoral apocalypse on November 8th, given that Trump is merely shouting out arguments that better-bred Republicans have been making in more dulcet tones for years, if not decades.

Chief among these is the “voter fraud” fraud, as explained by Rick Hasen:

Donald Trump may be out of step with the Republican Party’s traditional stance on some issues, like support for international trade, but he’s right in line with Republican hysteria over voter fraud. Indeed, the threat of voter intimidation and violence that Trump is raising by his irresponsible talk of vote rigging and encouragement of his supporters to go to other polling places is only possible because of years of earlier irresponsible talk. . .

But this should be no surprise, because members of the fraudulent fraud squad have pushed this message for years, claiming that voter fraud is rampant, and that it inevitably helps Democrats. As I pointed out in my 2012 book, The Voting Wars, conservative flame thrower Michelle Malkin warned just before the 2010 election that voter fraud was rampant. But when Democrats faced a “thumping” at the polls, Malkin had nothing to say about fraud. And now she’s at it again, claiming non-citizens will steal the election in Colorado and elsewhere.

There’s a whole industry of fraudsters, such as Hans von Spakovsky and Kansas Secretary of State Kobach who whip up voter fraud frenzies to degitimize Democrats, rile up the Republican base, and fundraise. That’s why the Wake County, NC GOP just sent out a letter saying that Democrats will “stop at nothing and registering dead people or falsifying voter information is simply a ‘means to an end’ for them.”

Here’s what we know about voter fraud. One should never say voter fraud is non-existent. In fact, it happens occasionally with absentee ballots and I’ve long said we need more action to stop it. I’ve also said we need to clean up voter registration rolls to stop registration fraud. What is extremely rare and has not affected any election we know of since the 1980s is impersonation fraud, the kind of fraud state voter ID laws are meant to stop. Yet Republican laws that make it harder to register and vote generally don’t go after absentee ballot fraud but are instead targeted almost exclusively to measures making it harder for those likely to vote Democratic to register and vote.

Claims of voter fraud are often exaggerated by orders of magnitude. Consider the claims about non-citizen voting. Matt Drudge recently had a headline stating: “Report: 1,000+ Illegal Voters in Virginia.” And Dan Scavino, Jr. tweeted: “Terrible. We know who the 1,000+ illegal aliens ARE NOT VOTING FOR! A fixed presidential election in the making….will we ever know!?!?” But if you look at the underlying report, they have identified only 31 actual non-citizen voters in Virginia over the last 10 years. No doubt there are some more, as not all the counties have responded yet. But it is not 1,000 plus non-citizens voting in Va. (“In the 8 jurisdictions that provided us with lists of aliens recently removed from their voter rolls, we discovered that 31 non-citizens had cast a total of 186 votes between 2005 and 2015. The most alien votes were cast in 2012 followed by 2008, the year President Obama was elected to his first term.” (emphasis omitted)). Don’t believe all the hype. Non-citizen voting is a real, but pretty small, problem (because the penalties are high and the payoff low).

And there’s no doubt a racial element to all of this. When Trump talks of voter fraud in “certain areas” (code word for voting by minorities, with the fix put in by local labor unions), he’s talking about impersonation fraud.

As so often the case with right-wing hysteria, there’s a large element of projection in all this, since the most important stolen election in American history was stolen in broad daylight by five Republican SCOTUS appointees, via the most preposterous opinion in the history of that institution. ETA: CassandraLeo in comments:

[Claims of voter fraud are] used as an excuse to pass draconian ID laws that are self-admittedly racially motivated and to purge enough people from the voter rolls to swing election results. Ralph Nader deservedly gets blame for the 2000 result alongside our first-past-the-post system and the Supreme Court’s worst decision arguably since Plessy v. Ferguson, but people being purged from the voter rolls was also a major contributing factor in the election results. At least tens of thousands of people were fraudulently and illegally purged from the voter rolls in Florida rolls (for things like having the same names as felons, but not actually being felons themselves), and since they were mostly minorities, one can easily conclude that this swung the election for Bush. It’s speculated that the same thing may have happened in Ohio in 2004, though this isn’t as widely agreed upon.

So, once again, this is Republicans doing something illegal and fraudulent to swing election results, and then claiming that Democrats are attempting to steal elections. They’ve been doing this since at least 2000, and while it didn’t work in 2008 or 2012 for the Presidency, it’s very likely to have affected significant numbers of House, Senate, and state elections. It’s always projection with these folks.

And, as is his wont. Trump can’t even be bothered to keep the whole “the blahs are stealing the election from honest hard-working white folk real Americans” in the subtext, since the Great Orange Teen Beauty Pageant Voyeur (seriously wtf?) doesn’t do subtext.

But again, the only thing that separates Trump from Republican orthodoxy on this matter is his crude delivery.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Trump is going to encourage his followers to reject the legitimacy of the Hillary Clinton presidency. In this regard he is merely reflecting the views of the average Republican voter, who has never accepted the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. In this way, the “voter fraud” nonsense is merely a repetition of the birther nonsense, and features the same underlying psychology. While no doubt some birthers were and are stupid and ignorant enough to literally believe that Obama wasn’t born in America, most such people were and are merely expressing their belief that Obama isn’t a real American in a shall we say somewhat more metaphorical sense.

Similarly, people like Trump (and again in this way he is hardly distinguishable from the whole Republican establishment) who screech constantly about voter fraud are really saying that the people whose votes are keeping them partially out of power are not really Americans, for all too obvious reasons.

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  • SoRefined

    (From Politico yesterday) “Somebody claiming in the election, ‘I was defrauded’, that isn’t going to cut it,” said former Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican who earlier in the campaign had endorsed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio. “They’re going to have to say how, where, why, when.”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha, nope. You don’t get to play that tune now.

    • LosGatosCA

      When did Bond become a DemocRAT?

  • BGinCHI

    At his rally in Wilkes-Barre the other day, he was talking about voting problems that were going to happen (in the future) in Philadelphia.

    Pitting white areas against cities is Trump’s strategy.

    Divide and conquer is a lot easier than unite and conquer, especially if you are a white supremacy party.

    • Mudge

      And the Pennsylvania Republican Party responded..

      http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20161009_Despite_Trump_s_warning_of_fraud__there_s_little_sign_of_interest_in_poll-watching.html

      “Still, the GOP chairman doesn’t share Trump’s opinion that the only way he can lose Pennsylvania is through voter fraud.

      “I am not afraid of big elections like this one coming up being stolen from us,” Gleason said. “Not at all. I like to believe in the integrity of the Democrats in Philadelphia.””

      Keep in mind, Trump was in Wilkes Barre (Alabama Pennsylvania) when he said it.

      • John F

        I lived in Western New York late 80s early 90s, the common expression was, what do you call the part of Pennsylvania between Philly and Pittsburgh? Alabama (Some variations called it Pennsyltucky).

        Years later I made a comment to a conservative co-worker of mine (who had gone to school in Alabama for one year- did I mention that he was conservative?) that calling rural Pennsylvania “Alabama” wasn’t an insult to Pennsylvanians, it was an insult to Alabama – his response? No it isn’t, no matter how awful you think the inbred hillbillies of the Alleghenies are, Alabama is worse (near exact quote as best I can remember).

        Did I mention that this was a conservative Republican saying that?

      • SoRefined

        The Pennsylvania GOP sure felt differently in 2012, when the Leader of the Republicans for the PA House Mike Turzai said “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” while listing their recent accomplishments.

        Naturally, such an outrageous statement that gave away the whole game resulted in him being dismissed from party leadership being made Speaker of the House.

    • efgoldman

      Pitting white areas against cities is Trump’s strategy.

      He has no “strategy”
      He doesn’t “plan”
      He just reacts and lets loose whatever crap is rolling around in his head.
      If there was any doubt before, it was certainly confirmed today.

  • As always, it’s projection with these folks. As people have pointed out, in-person voter impersonation is extremely rare and has never been prevalent enough to swing any major elections (it’s possible but unlikely that some minor races for something like school board could have been affected, but since it’s statistically unlikely that more than one fraudulent vote resulted from this in any specific election of this size, it’s still quite unlikely).

    What is significantly more common is voter registration fraud, but this has no effect on election results, because signing up Mickey Mouse to vote isn’t going to result in Mickey Mouse voting – Mickey Mouse doesn’t exist. The penalties for registering someone fraudulently are minor, and perverse incentives exist for doing so that may counteract them for some people. The penalties for voting fraudulently are much higher, and most people aren’t willing to risk them, which is why the number of people who do it usually ranks in the double digits at the absolute highest.

    But of course, this is used as an excuse to pass draconian ID laws that are self-admittedly racially motivated and to purge enough people from the voter rolls to swing election results. Ralph Nader deservedly gets blame for the 2000 result alongside our first-past-the-post system and the Supreme Court’s worst decision arguably since Plessy v. Ferguson, but people being purged from the voter rolls was also a major contributing factor in the election results. At least tens of thousands of people were fraudulently and illegally purged from the voter rolls in Florida rolls (for things like having the same names as felons, but not actually being felons themselves), and since they were mostly minorities, one can easily conclude that this swung the election for Bush. It’s speculated that the same thing may have happened in Ohio in 2004, though this isn’t as widely agreed upon.

    So, once again, this is Republicans doing something illegal and fraudulent to swing election results, and then claiming that Democrats are attempting to steal elections. They’ve been doing this since at least 2000, and while it didn’t work in 2008 or 2012 for the Presidency, it’s very likely to have affected significant numbers of House, Senate, and state elections. It’s always projection with these folks.

  • Thrax

    My recurring nightmare is large-scale hacking, whether of voting rolls, voting machines, results, or something else, and Trump pointing to irregularities as proof that the election was stolen–even though, if the pattern holds, the hacking would be an attempt to *help* Trump. In that sense, it would be a no-lose scenario for the hackers: even if you don’t succeed in getting him elected, you still delegitimize the results, whether or not that makes sense.

    • Murc

      My recurring nightmare is large-scale hacking, whether of voting rolls, voting machines, results, or something else

      There shouldn’t be voting machines of any kind, really.

      Voting should take place with a pen and a piece of paper. Ballots counted by hand.

      • BigHank53

        I’m fine with running the ballots through a scanner. You’ve still got the paper if anything looks hinky. Though of course the scanner can be hacked to undercount votes for the party you want to lose…

        • efgoldman

          I’m fine with running the ballots through a scanner.

          That’s what we have in RI and much of MA.
          Here in RI, 50 towns (mine is one of them) are experimenting with looking up and checking off voter lists on tablets instead of those big old books.
          The poll workers are mostly older than I am, some considerably so,
          Hilarity may ensue.

        • You’d have to switch ballots from one to the other so that the total number of ballots matches the number of people who checked into each polling place.

        • Richard Gadsden

          Run them through the scanner to get a provisional result. Take two or three weeks to count the paper for the official result.

          That way there’s no point hacking the scanner, because it’s not the official count anyway, but you get results much faster, and you don’t have to pay to count quickly on paper.

          It’s entirely possible to count fast on paper – Sunderland routinely counts 100,000 votes in under an hour – but it takes a lot of staff and a lot of training, so it’s expensive. A slow, accurate count is far cheaper; you can hire on temporary staff like the census does.

      • Bitter Scribe

        Where I vote it’s done digitally, but there’s a paper printout. The paper is under glass and you don’t get to touch it, but at least you know a hard copy of your vote exists.

        • Murc

          Nevada, right? Sounds like how they do it in Nevada.

        • njorl

          Where I vote (MD), we got nothin’ but faith. I would really prefer a system like you describe.

      • bender

        Paper ballots, marked by hand, machine counted, where I live.

      • Captain Oblivious

        As a computer science professional (retired), I am 100% for hand-counted paper ballots.

        I trust computers and programmers to do some things well, like storing your bank account data. Yes, security is an issue, but that problem is largely licked, and successful hacks are the result of companies trying to go cheap, usually in the quality of the programmers they hire or the third-party software they buy.

        But that’s data you can verify to be correct. The problem with electronic voting of any kind, including the old-fashioned mechanical voting machines, is that there is no way for you to verify that your vote was counted and that everyone else’s vote was also counted correctly. A paper receipt doesn’t prove anything except that the machine is capable of echoing your input.

        The only way to make sure everything is above-board is to hand-count paper ballots and allow observers to monitor the count.

  • Connecticut Yankee

    Conservative narratives about voter fraud have definitely included white people! Not very many black people voting in 1960 Chicago, for example, when this stuff was just as big with them as it is now. It’s broader – not just anti-black and anti-Latino prejudice, but also prejudice against immigrants, against cities, and against the poor and less educated. It’s a natural evolution of the Progressive Era arguments that lead to our system of voter registration in the first place. And unfortunately, that, despite being the most effective vote suppression tool there is, isn’t even controversial

    • Murc

      My understanding is that Chicago-style voting fraud involved things like ballot box stuffing, which doesn’t require thousands of co-conspirators.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Wait, now they’re going to degitimize us? Is there no end to their nefarious tricks?

  • bexley

    Is that Glenn Beck with the confederate flag? He’s older than I thought.

    • grouchomarxist

      That guy was just displaying the flag to celebrate his heritage. It is, of course, a complete coincidence that he chose to stage his celebration next to a line of black protestors.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Later that night, he thumbed through one of his many well-worn volumes of Edmund Burke, and fretted about the fallibility of man and small government and debt/GDP ratios. (Well, until the phone rang and he was told the cross burning was on for tonight.)

  • tsam
    • John F

      Many Russians regard Zhirinovsky as a clownish figure who makes outspoken statements to grab attention but he is also widely viewed as a faithful servant of Kremlin policy, sometimes used to float radical opinions to test public reaction.

      He is the living embodiment of the phrase “useful idiot”- he is a completely ludicrous clown, but he/his existence is useful to Putin, see Putin allows free elections, we even let this man and his party run and take seats in parliament, see we have free speech, we haven’t shut this bozo up.

      Imagine if the US had three political parties, the Democratic Republicans (with the White House and both houses of congress), the Jill Stein lead Greens (with 20% of the seats) and the Rent is too Damn High party lead by the Rent is too Damn high guy (with 20% of the seats)- functionally we’d be a one party system- the other parties are no threats and would exist solely to project a fake image of democracy- that’s Putin’s Russia and Zhirinovsky is the Rent is too Damn High guy.

      • tsam

        That’s what I gathered, and I’m guessing he has a Putin-hand-shaped bruise across his face today. Putin can be jackass, but there’s no way he likes this sort of bullshit.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I’ve thought for a long time that Trump isn’t the American Putin, he’s the American Zhirinovsky. At one point Zhirinovsky ran for president and promised that if elected he would blow radioactive waste into the Baltics with giant fans.

      • tsam

        WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT???

        And no-For all of Putin’s faults, he’s a serious leader who is competent, even if we don’t like a lot of the shit he does. Trump is … fuck I don’t even know how to describe Trump. If he was organized and competent, we would be in BIG FUCKING TROUBLE.

  • Bootsie

    Pretty much no one in that picture looks enthusiastic to be there.

    • Monte_Davis

      Until I saw that photo, I’d never known that Fannie Mae was just a little neighborhood  bakery, before ACORN and the Black Panthers and Saul Alinsky turned it into a financial giant by forcing it to issue all those bum mortgages. ​

  • junker
    • Matt McIrvin

      These panel-type polls, like this one and RAND’s, shouldn’t be consulted for information on the absolute state of the race anyway; they’re not really for that. The use of a persistent panel means that any sampling problem in the construction of the panel will turn into a systematic bias for the entire poll. The idea is more that you can distinguish small changes in the panel’s reaction to events from pure noise from variations in the sample.

  • science_goy

    I wish people would stop describing this phenomenon as “irresponsible,” as though Trump and the GOP were pushing the voter fraud narrative without giving sufficient thought to potential unintended consequences on minority communities. These consequences are very much intended. They’re the entire point, in fact!

    Racist, unconstitutional, or antidemocratic would all be more accurate ways to describe it than “irresponsible.”

  • Owlbear1

    Described as the Evangelical Brother of a Kos diarist.

    To my friend’s credit, she was respectful enough to let me respond when she asked, “Really, what has Trump done?”
    I said, “In June of last year, Trump entered the race for president. In just a little over a year, Trump has single handedly defeated the Republican party. He did so thoroughly. In fact, he did so in such a resounding way that the Republican Party now suffers from an identity crisis. He literally dismantled the party. Trump even dismantled and dismissed the brand and value of the Bush family.
    Trump has Obama petrified that Trump will dismiss programs that weren’t properly installed using proper law.
    Trump has single handedly debunked and disemboweled any value of news media as we knew it—news now suffering from an all-time level of distrust and disrespect.

    In the same way Trump asked the African-American community this question, I asked my friend, ”At this point, what do you have to lose?” We have mass cop shootings, riots in our streets, ambushed cops, double digit inflation, bombs blowing up in our cities, targeted police, #BLM, a skyrocketing jobless rate, no economic growth, privately owned land being seized by the federal government, the worst racial tension in my lifetime, no God in schools, more abortions than ever, illegal aliens pouring into our country, sick veterans receiving no care, and a debt that doubled in seven years to $19 trillion. Are you really happy with the condition of the current system?
    One man has done all of this in one year—one guy, and on his own dime. And with everything I’ve written above, you believe Trump hasn’t done anything? You claim that you are afraid of Donald Trump? No wonder we’re in trouble. You can say that Trump is a lousy presidential candidate. That’s your right. Just don’t ever say he’s not effective.

    You can disrespect America all you want. But, it’s high-time you respect the silent majority. Because they’re not simply the “silent majority” as you’ve been trained to believe when Hillary calls them “deplorables.” The fact is, they are simply the majority. And now they’re no longer silent either. Donald Trump changed all of that, single-handedly and within one year.” From Be Forbes.”

    Apparently at least one Evangelical Trump supporter is growling for a messiah.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Trump even dismantled and dismissed the brand and value of the Bush family.

      I’m sorry, but somebody else pushed it to the edge of the cliff, a few years ago… hmm… who could that be? Oh, and these dopey dupes loved him like he was God’s other son, too.

      We have mass cop shootings, riots in our streets, ambushed cops, double digit inflation, bombs blowing up in our cities, targeted police, #BLM, a skyrocketing jobless rate, no economic growth, privately owned land being seized by the federal government, the worst racial tension in my lifetime, no God in schools, more abortions than ever, illegal aliens pouring into our country, sick veterans receiving no care, and a debt that doubled in seven years to $19 trillion.

      I am… concerned… about the factual basis of much of this.

      And, I’m starting to get sick of folks who think that vets should never be homeless and should always get healthcare

      (and I’m not talking only war/combat/combat-wounded vets here, and neither are they))

      and all the other citizens? Their attitude is FUUUUUUCK YOOUUUUUU.

      • bender

        I consider no God in schools to be a plus. Government, hands off my religion.

    • efgoldman

      Apparently at least one Evangelical Trump supporter is growling for a messiah.

      Is that Throttle Jockey under his meatspace name?

    • postmodulator

      You can disrespect America all you want. But, it’s high-time you respect the silent majority. Because they’re not simply the “silent majority” as you’ve been trained to believe when Hillary calls them “deplorables.” The fact is, they are simply the majority.

      “Oh, I was confused because the scoreboard says something different.”

      • MyNameIsZweig

        One of my favorite Futurama episodes.

  • markregan

    The photo. The first marcher’s sign says something like, “The White House is no place for the Governor of the #1 Murder State — Annapolis NAACP,” and the second marcher’s sign says “More than 300,000 Negroes denied the vote in Alabama,” and one of the other marchers’ signs says “Go Home Wallace,” so we’re in Maryland, and Wallace is running for President — would this have been 1964, 1968, or 1972? Wallace wasn’t Governor in 1968, and the reference to Negroes would have been a little outdated in 1972 — so, 1964, the Maryland Democratic primary (in which Wallace won what, 43% of the vote)?

    • Vance Maverick

      Here you go:

      Blacks demonstrate in front of an Indianapolis hotel, April 14, 1964, where Alabama Governor George Wallace is staying, and are picketed by two white youths carrying Confederate flags, right. The governor arrived in Indiana on April 14 to wage a campaign for the Democratic presidential primary on May 5. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty)

  • BillWAF

    Bill Clinton was President when the state of Florida was illegally purging blacks from its voter rolls. His attorney general was from Florida. Why doesn’t he get any blame for the theft of the 2000 Presidential election? His administration allowed it to happen.

    • MyNameIsZweig

      Yes, he incomprehensibly allowed Jeb Bush to get elected governor and Katherine Harris to get elected as Florida’s Secretary of State, and then – for reasons Clinton will no doubt carry to his grave – inexplicably let the ridiculously-designed Palm Beach County butterfly ballots make their way into the hands of voters. Why, one could say he didn’t. Even. Try.

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